How to deal with misogyny at the workplace

by Aderonke Adebayo

We are still in a world where men feel inferior when they find themselves under the leadership of their fellow human beingswomen. The wonted standpoint is that everything should still begin and end with men. This wriggles its way to enabling misogyny.

Kate Manne, author of “Down Girl: The logic of misogyny” says misogyny is social systems or environments where women face hostility and hatred because they are women in a man’s world.

No doubt misogyny is a prevalent problem. The workplace is ridden with too many stories of men opining that women are weaker vessels, and may not have the capacity to do the same things men do.

Misogyny could manifest itself in sexual objectification, violence against women,
patriarchy, male privilege, hostility, sex discrimination, social exclusion and so on.

And, there are different types of misogynists – mansplainers, manterruptors, accidental manipulators, unauthorised advice-givers, sexualisers, etc.

From lewd comments to being groped, through to sexual assault, the attacks on women in the workplace continues unabated.

Misogyny, indeed, results in the imbalance of power between men and women and the underrepresentation of women in positions of authority. And, there are questions in this light:

Why aren’t women supporting other women?

Why didn’t Hilary Clinton win the election?

Can a woman be a misogynist?

Internalised misogyny is the involuntary belief by girls and women that the lies – stereotypes and myths about girls and women, that are delivered to everyone in a sexist society – are true.

In essence, women can also be misogynists but not intentionally though. It isn’t something women plan to do, and may not even realise it but it’s there.

Either intentionally or unintentionally, we do it. In our comments and attitudes towards other women. For instance, saying “I have more male friends” – for several reasons – is misogynistic. Oftentimes, it comes subconsciously.

Curbing misogyny at the workplace would be really difficult because you will definitely meet ‘women-haters’ and work alongside them every day. But, here are a few tips on how to deal with a misogynist at the workplace;

1. Make them look stupid. When someone passes a sexist comment at you, act dumb to make them look stupid. Say something like, “Uhm, who said that?” (In a sarcastic way). “C’mon, that is so high school, we don’t say that anymore. You should check yourself” or “That’s inappropriate”. That may throw him off

2. Point it out when a colleague uses a romantic name referring to you – When a co-worker calls you sweetheart, darling or even dear. React immediately. You don’t have to argue or even raise your voice, just point out that you would like to be addressed by your first name. Be nice but firm.

3. Mansplainers are the worst so when you come in contact with one, clarify by making them understand that you understand what your job description says and that you would ask for their help when it’s needed. After all, you got the job because you were deemed qualified for it.

4. Learn to support other women. This goes a long way. Don’t just
support women on social media, demonstrate it at your workplace. Speak up for other women in meetings when they are shut out, in presentations, etc. Help amplify the voices of other women around you. Don’t see other women as your bitter competitors.

5. Meet with HR – Don’t be scared of HR, it’s their job. They were hired to ensure that you have a conducive working environment. So if you have any problem with any of your colleagues, meet with them. Let them know how uncomfortable the colleague makes you feel.

6. Be confident and celebrate your little wins. It’s very important. Don’t let
anyone make you feel less than you are. Don’t give them the power over you.

Indeed, the list is non-exhaustive and women have tried other ways that have worked for them. You could listen to them too, let them guide you.

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